June 2011

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27 Weeks

Back in February and March, I was so concerned about whether I’d be able to make the trip to OCON at 27 weeks pregnant with twins. And now we’re leaving tomorrow. Woohoo! I can’t believe I’m really here, in this place right now.

Everything in this pregnancy is going right. There are no signs of any health problems for me or for Leo or Zoe. There are no signs of pre-term labor. I’m not unduly uncomfortable, as some warned that I might be by this time. All tests are normal. Both babies measure exactly where they should be, and they are pretty much the same size (which is important). There’s just no reason to worry.

But still, I do. I guess I’m not going to have a totally blissful pregnancy. I’m approaching the end game and now and my worries have just shifted from miscarriage to genetic defects to premature delivery – all groundless. Oh well. I’m doing the best I can. I don’t dwell on my worries, but beating them down does take away from the overall joy of the whole experience. I still can’t say out loud, “I’m having two babies” without a tiny qualifier going off in my head: “I hope.” It’s a tiny, weak voice, but it is always there. I suppose some people live with that voice in their head for everything they do in life. That is sad. It should not be normal. But I can see how repeated tragedies can do that to a person. It will probably take years of work for me to expunge these bad experiences from my sense of life, but that is my goal. It’s still just a little too soon.

Anyway, before we go to OCON, we’re visiting Adam’s parents in Florida for a couple of days, and then after OCON we’ll drive back and see them again. I haven’t mentioned it here before, but Adam’s dad is sick. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about two months ago. There is no such thing as recovery from pancreatic cancer. We don’t know how much longer we’ll have with him, but he is fighting hard for as much time as he can get. So we’re trying to see them as often as possible right now.

I’ve never gone through an illness of a loved-one before. I used to fear it. Now that it’s happening, the fear is gone. It just is what it is. And we’re doing what we can. Right now, Adam’s dad is here and we’re busy loving and valuing him. All the sadness and grief is there, but I’m also experiencing the stereotypical feeling of a greater appreciation for life. With the babies coming, life and death are in stark relief for me right now. It’s kind of an amazing place to be. And I think, if I continue to use my mind to process all of this properly, it will all help to achieve that goal of banishing the irrational fears and returning to a more benevolent perspective on life. In fact, I think that ultimately all of this that I’ve gone through in the past few years is going to help me achieve more peace and more happiness than I ever had before.

Life is good.

Sam got lost today. I mean, she was really lost for the first time ever. It was kind of a good experience.

We were at Macy’s where I was shopping for new maternity clothes (yes, I’m growing out of most of my current ones already). We were both exhausted – my feet were killing me and I just wanted to be done as soon as possible. After picking out a few items, I told her it was time to go to the fitting room. She said, no, she wanted to lay down on the floor and rest. The maternity section was actually housed in a glass room within the store (the place they used to keep the fur coats), and it was deserted but for one saleslady. The fitting rooms were just outside this room. So, in keeping with our constant efforts at free-range parenting (it really takes effort to let go), I decided to let her stay. She was half asleep under a rack of clothing when I left.

We did this at IKEA recently – we left her lying on a bed while we went around the corner to pick out handles for our cabinets. We just told her to stay put and, that if any adults asked, to tell them that she was fine and mommy and daddy know where she is and will be right back. She also knows my phone number and how to “find a mommy” if she needs help. IKEA worked out fine.

But this time, after about, oh, seven minutes (quite a long time, really), I returned to find her gone. The cool part was, I didn’t freak out at all. The saleslady thought Sam had gone with me and gasped when she found out otherwise. I just calmly brought my clothes to the register and told her to hold them for me. Then I did a methodical walk around the surrounding area, calling Sam’s name as loudly as I dared. I was sure I’d find her quickly (one reason I feel okay leaving her alone is that she is not the type to bolt), but when I didn’t, I realized that this might be a problem.

The problem wasn’t that I was worried about her having been abducted or hurt or anything. I was really just worried that I was going to have to walk around for a while on my aching feet. Seriously, that was my main concern. Like, “oh shit, this might mean I have to stand up for another half hour.” And when I noticed that the escalator was nearby I did have a moment of panic, because that would have doubled my search area.

Anyway, I was just about at the end of what I thought was a reasonable perimeter and was facing the necessity of deciding what to do next when I heard the Macy’s Muzak stop. I knew exactly what would happen. A voice came over the speakers:

“Attention Macy’s customers. Will Amy Mossoff please report to the customer service desk behind ladies lingerie on the lower level. Amy Mossoff, please come to customer service on the lower level.”

Whew! What a relief. I had just covered lingerie and it wasn’t too far of a walk!

Of course, what had happened was that some good citizen had seen a child without an adult and had immediately taken her to the authorities. If she hadn’t done that, I probably would have found Sam in less than a minute (she’s not much of a wanderer, and I know her habits – she probably would have been right there in lingerie, pinching the push-up bras). But I can’t really blame people for trying to help this way. You just don’t see four-year-olds wandering around alone in the mall very often.

Anyway, it was a good, safe situation for Sam to be lost in. I was hoping she might learn a lesson from it, but she wasn’t really scared and I don’t think it had much impact. Since I wasn’t truly worried, I didn’t fake it and make a big deal of it to her. But I did tell her that she’s going to have to come to the fitting rooms with me until she’s just a bit older.

26 Weeks

Again, I have no time for blogging. We are in the middle of remodeling two bathrooms now, and it is way more chaotic than I had anticipated.  As I stated on Facebook today, I have moved out of the “I need to get as much done before the babies arrive” phase, and am now on to the “I need to eliminate as many projects as possible as soon as possible” phase. I only have about 2 or 2 1/2 months left and I need a break before those babies arrive. Yikes!

25 Weeks

Okay, I’m calling it. This is officially my third trimester. I can’t remember when the third trimester is supposed to start, but I’m not going to make it to 40 weeks anyway, so I’m calling it.

Everything is still going great. Leo and Zoe are doing their thing – growing and swallowing and peeing and hiccuping and kicking me in the bladder. Actually, that might be the most interesting part about this pregnancy so far – the movement of the babies. It turns out that even in the womb, you want them on the same schedule. Otherwise, they take turns kicking and you can’t sleep. I have no control now, but once they are born, those kids are going to eat and sleep together, I tell you!

The movement is awesome. I can tell who is who most of the time. Leo is low and deep, so I feel his movements on my internal organs. Zoe is higher up and closer to the front, so I feel her against my flesh. Her movements are so strong that I can rest a coffee cup on my belly and it will jump all around. Leo’s movements are so strong that he has caused me a bit of incontinence on more than one occasion. I mean, a sudden blow to the bladder can be quite surprising! Adam has been able to feel movement by resting his hand on my belly once, but it took an hour. Of course, that was the one hour that both kids decided to nap.

I have gained over 30 pounds now. I feel huge. It’s not really the belly, but just the weight. I was heavier than I had ever been before I got pregnant, so it really is a strain on my body. While in Florida, I swam while pregnant for the first time ever. I finally know why so many pregnant women love it. It was such a relief to be so much lighter. Lying down helps to spread the weight around, but water is the best. But when I finally got out (after two hours), I could barely get myself out of the pool. I could not believe how heavy I felt. I felt the strain in all my muscles and my knees and my feet. It made me realize just how much work it really is, just getting around now.

My knees have been bothering me for a few weeks now. I’ve been trying to bend my knees and lift with my legs instead of my back, as they always advise you to do, but I can tell that the strain on my knees is not good. Tonight, I squatted down to get a tupperware container from a low shelf and learned the meaning of “my knee just gave out.” Actually, it didn’t really happen. My knee didn’t give out – it just almost did. I could feel that something was about to bust in there, and I was just lucky that it didn’t, and that I got a warning. So I can no longer bend my knees to pick things up off the ground. And that’s a big problem because I’m so clumsy I drop everything. I dropped two out of my three vitamins this morning before getting them all in my mouth. I drop my car keys at least once a day. Sunglasses, receipts, shoes, you name it – I drop it. So I had to find a new way to bend down, and the giraffe method was the only thing I could think of.

Yes, I’m in my third trimester. I am a fat giraffe.

24 Weeks

We’re headed to Florida for a quick visit with Adam’s parents. I thought I’d have a few blog posts written this week, but alas…

The best I can do is leave you with a 24 week photo.

School is out for the summer! And, contrary to the famous commercial, I think now is the most wonderful time of the year. I thought summer last year would be tough – no more free babysitting in the form of school.  (Well, not free, but included in the price of admission.) But I found out that, with a couple of camps and a couple of trips to break things up, spending full days with my daughter was a pleasure that I had missed during the school year. I hope and expect that this summer will be the same.

Sammy received her end of year “report card,” such as it is from a Montessori program. Actually, they call it a “progress report.” There are a couple dozen categories in which the child is rated from 1-5 (“works with moveable alphabet,” “enjoys listening to music,” “demonstrates grace and courtesy,” etc.), but it’s really the teacher’s narrative that is meaningful. Last year, the theme of the report was that Sammy needed to be more independent. I was so concerned! This is why we were sending her to Montessori! She was independent at home. Why wasn’t she choosing work on her own and being so timid at school? Why were we paying all this money for her to sit around and peel carrots?

Well, I was wrong and I was right. Developing her independences is the primary reason we sent her to Montessori, but the fact that she wasn’t showing independence wasn’t the fault of her school or her character – it was no cause for alarm. It was just what she had to go through to get where she needed to be, and thank god she is in Montessori, because this year, she got there! And she did it on her own, the Montessori way, because she was ready, not because someone pushed her.

This year, Sammy flourished. She blossomed. She went from reticent, shy, clingy school-Sammy, to choosing her own friends, choosing her own work, working hard every day, acting with confidence, and really concentrating on her work. I couldn’t be more pleased. Of course, she has made excellent progress in the “academic” side of school as well. She is reading real books now – her language development is far ahead of the curve. She is also on-track with numbers and math, which she was completely uninterested in last year. She works with all the other materials in the classroom as well, from geography puzzles to the musical bells. But to me, those things are consequences. The important thing is that Sam is learning about the rewards of work and effort, about independence, and about values.

This year, her teacher mentions that Sammy still sometimes needs direction in choosing more challenging activities, and her underdeveloped fine-motor skills are still holding her back. (Isn’t it wonderful that in Montessori, a need for direction in choosing more challenging activities is not seen as normal, but something to be improved upon? The child is expected to learn to choose challenging activities for his own, selfish purposes.) I must have blossomed right along with Sam because now, I’m not worried. Instead of flipping out about how Sam must be lazy or fears failure, I just see this as part of the road that she needs to travel. Some kids struggle in other ways. Sammy struggles with self-confidence. There is no better place for her to learn it firsthand than in a Montessori classroom. I can’t wait to see how she develops next year! And maybe I’ll learn something again, too.

Mommy, you know those bad guys?
Which ones?
You know, those worst ones in the whole world?
The Nazis?
No.
The Communists?
No.
The Islamo-fascists?
Yes! Those bad guys. The ones with the worst bad guy ever.
Osama bin Laden. Yes, what about them?
We killed him. He is dead. But there are other ones and if they got near us, they would try to kill us.
Yes, they probably would. But luckily, they aren’t anywhere near us and we have soldiers to protect us and keep them away.
If they got near you and tried to kill you, would you kill them?
I would if I had to, but I don’t have a gun.
I have a water gun!
 

On the Rational Parenting List, we’re discussing the question of why anyone would teach or learn Latin, a dead language. Here is my contribution:

I took a course at a homeschooling conference that addressed this question – why teach Latin? The answers they gave, as I recall, were:

  1. To improve English vocabulary and understanding (Latin roots)
  2. To open up new ways of studying history (reading original Latin texts, I suppose)
  3. To expose the mind to the structure of Latin, which is logical and almost mathematical, especially as opposed to English
  4. To gain the benefits of being bilingual, regardless of the language (not the practicality of the language, but the opening of the mind to the idea that concepts can be represented by more than one concrete)
  5. To make it easier to learn other Latin-based languages.
  6. There is also Biblical Latin (I forget what you call it), which was another reason for those so inclined.

Actually, I’m not sure they included #4 or if that comes from me. I intend to teach my children Latin (but beginning in 4th grade, not Kindergarten! [as someone had discussed]), and my reasons are primarily #1, 3, and 4, especially #1. I do not intend to teach them to speak, but only to read and write Latin, and if they are very resistant, I wouldn’t push it too hard as a subject. But the final reason I want to teach it is because I want to learn it for those same reasons, and so does Adam. We plan to learn it as a family.

Sam’s latest favorite movie is Aladdin. She wants to watch it every single day. She loves the genie. She thinks he is “spazy.” I might have used that word. Who wouldn’t, when referring to Robin Williams?

Anyway, at dinner last night, I was telling Adam about all the stuff I had purchased at Toys-R-Us:

“…and some hooded towels and crib sheets and another Diaper Genie and three tubs of diaper cream and…”

Sam got out of her chair and came  up to me and said, “Mommy, can I ask you something?” I said sure. She pulled me down so that she could whisper in my ear – something she usually does for things like, “Can I have some candy?” or “I really, really want to pull the cat’s tail.” – you know, things of utmost importance.

She whispered solemnly, “Did you tell Daddy that you got diapers with genies on them?”

23 Weeks

I have officially entered the phase of pregnancy known as the buying-stuff-mester.

Adam and I have been to IKEA twice over the past two weekends, and we need to go back again next weekend. I spent $350 at Toys-R-Us today, just picking out a few things on my list like bottles, towels, sheets, blankets, etc.

I usually love shopping, but this is exhausting. We spent six hours at IKEA the other day and I had to take a three hour nap when we got home. Three hours at Target and Toys-R-Us on a 95 degree day made me feel like my legs would give out. I suppose that such fast weight-gain is really taking a toll on my muscles. My lung capacity has also shrunk already. I wish I had been in better shape to begin with (although I wasn’t in horrible shape). I briefly considered taking up my Curves workout again during pregnancy, but the biggest problem with that is time. I have no time for such inconsequential matters.

Tomorrow I have my last monthly OB appointment. From now on, I’ll be going every two weeks (until the end when I go every week). I was lucky to get away with so few appointments up until now. Some OBs go with bimonthly appointments from the start with twins. But not mine.

I have to say, I am very, very pleased with my doctor. I found him by accident during my third miscarriage, when I was between doctors and needed someone to do the D&C. I basically just looked him up on the internet and called and begged him to take on my case. He got me through the last two miscarriages and I liked him enough to stick with him for the pregnancy. He is a high-risk OB, and I think he’s a bit of an interventionist when it comes to the delivery, but I could care less about that for this pregnancy. With twins, there’s not much point in having a birth plan. I’ll argue if he wants to induce me for no good reason, or give me pitocin to speed up labor, or give me an episiotomy, but otherwise, I pretty much have to do what he and the hospital folks say. I’ll probably have to deliver in an OR, even if I deliver vaginally with no complications. I also think they might require me to get an epidural (but I’m checking on that) which I assume is for the purpose of being prepared for a C-section (which I think is about a fifty/fifty proposition). That all sounds reasonable to me.

What I like about my OB, though, is that he doesn’t buy into the “any risk is unacceptable” school of thought. He has not given me one bit of advice about diet, he has not recommended that I do Kegels, he has not warned me off of alcohol, cigarettes, caffiene, or sushi, and he even tells me that sleeping on my back is ok. I’ve asked him about some of these issues, and instead of giving me the usual, blanket “avoid that behavior,” he explains the precise risk of each concern and gives me his advice about it. (I also hate doctors who will give you statistics and then just say, “you decide.” Sorry, but your job as a doctor includes giving me recommendations. Just don’t treat me like a moron.)

He is also very good about helping both Adam and me through some of our worries due to our history. For instance, before we went in for the 20-week ultrasound, he warned us that the doctor might tell us about some “anomalies” that sound very scary when you have no context for them. One that I recall had something to do with a particular measurement that means an increased chance of Downs’ Syndrome. The u/s doctor might tell us about that measurement, but neglect to tell us that five other measurements made during the u/s were normal, and when you put all six together, we come out of the room with a lower chance of Downs than we had going in. We ended up having no anomalies at all, but it would have been a great comfort if something like that had come up.

Tomorrow I’ll get to see Leo and Zoe again for the first time in a month. I’ve missed seeing them. Oh, if you missed the comments in my 22 Weeks post, you should check it out for more on the reasons for our name choices (including what “Leo” is short for). Now that we’ve let the cat out of the bag, and also started calling the babies by their names, we’re even more sure that these will be their names. My only problem with the names is that I never got the chance to sit down and browse through the baby-name books and make lists and that whole thing. I loved doing that with Sam. But, I just can’t imagine finding any names we’d like better, so I think it’s settled.